Home to India after Aussie assault
BEING brutally bashed in the streets of Coolangatta was reason enough for a Tweed Heads resident to flee the country.
Former Southern Cross University student Sachin Surendran, 22, moved back to his hometown of Kerala, India, after two assailants maliciously attacked him one night in June outside an unmanned Coolangatta Police Station.
The 22-year-old said he did not feel welcome in Australia any more.
“I can say that the incident made me decide to come back home to India,” Mr Surendran said.
“I may still be in Tweed Heads if it hadn’t happened to me.
Mr Surendran confirmed his departure from the region on Friday.
It tops off months of violence in Coolangatta, which is fast gaining a reputation as a late-night danger zone.
A week ago, Queensland Police Sergeant Steve Quinn was left with a suspected broken jaw following a punch to the back of the head while breaking up a large brawl on Griffith Street, Coolangatta.
Months earlier, 23-year-old Murwillumbah man Andrew Houlahan was killed with one punch in a brawl in the same street and 18-year-old Sam Ford from Cabarita was bashed and left with head injuries.
Mr Surendran said greater police presence is needed if there is to be any hope of curbing the violence in the streets of Coolangatta.
“It’s sad to hear something like this happened to a police officer. It could happen to anyone if it happened to him as well.”
Mr Surendran said his assault was the final straw as he was already dealing with financial problems that hindered his living and studying situation in the Tweed.
“I was really confused about what to do next after I got robbed and injured,” he said.
“I was so depressed after that.”
Mr Surendran said he moved back to India a couple of months after the assault.
A Queensland Police Union spokesman yesterday said Tweed Heads Police should offer a hand to their Coolangatta counterparts if there is to be any chance of challenging the street violence.
“There obviously needs to be a concentrated effort of resources from Queensland and New South Wales police forces in that area,” the spokesman said.
“The matter should be looked at by both governments, even though it’s officially Queensland.”
Federation of Indian Students of Australia spokesman Gautam Gupta said Mr Surendran’s case is not unusual.
“Members of our own executive board have left Australia after being assaulted,” Mr Gupta said.
“After they get attacked it’s often the last straw for them. They get frustrated with the system and just decide to leave.”
Mr Gupta said there is no support in the Tweed or Gold Coast for Indian students in Mr Surendran’s position.
“We are mostly based in Melbourne and Sydney and do not have the resources to go to the Tweed,” he said.
After being bashed, the twisted assailants took a photo of Mr Surendran so they would have “something to remember him by”.
They then dragged him into a car park joining the police station where he was further attacked with a tree branch and stabbed in the face with his own car keys.
He eventually escaped to the police station, which was unattended because it was after hours.
The experience left him with five stitches around his right eye.
At the time, Mr Surendran said the existence of the photo made him fear for his safety.
He also said he was disappointed the Coolangatta Police Station was only open between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday.
“There is no point in having a police station if it’s not always open,” Mr Surendran previously said.
He never heard if the perpetrators were brought to justice or not.
On Wednesday, Coolangatta Duty Sergeant Billy Kaz said police would be out in force for the remainder of the holiday period.
“Five operations are running in the Coolangatta area alone, targeting traffic, public order and property related offences,” Sgt Kaz said this week.
“Police on the Gold Coast are undertaking operation ‘Merrit’ to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence attached to licensed areas, and curb public order and assault-related offences by rostering additional staff over the operation period.”
Operation Merrit will run until January 31.
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